June 28, 2022

By Macy Wright, HR Shared Services Manager

At Cerence, serving our communities has always been an integral part of our journey. One way we do this is through our partnership with the SAE Foundation, an organization whose mission is to inspire the next generation of innovators, to spark curiosity, and to create a world where STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) education can nourish minds and awaken dreams. Cerence has partnered with SAE over the past year and a half through monetary support as well as Cerence individuals volunteering their expertise and skills. 

A Day Well Spent with SAE

Recently, we were so excited to be asked to help judge an SAE contest for students. Several North American Cerence employees volunteered to judge the competition, in which elementary and middle school students chose a real-world issue and researched, imagined, and designed their own STEM-based solutions, then created a digital presentation to share their ideas. Topics ranged from lab experiments on sanitation methods to a Carbon Neutral Aquaponics system to a kidnapping avoidance system based on hair scrunchies. Cerence volunteers listened to these presentations and worked with their fellow judges all over North America to judge the projects. Here’s what our Cerence team members had to say about this memorable experience: 

I had a very good experience learning to be a judge in the Chowdhury student STEM contest, “evaluating” six proposals, and meeting with my small cohort of non-Cerence judges to calibrate on scoring.  All in all, a worthwhile volunteer project! - Eric

It was an interesting and engaging experience volunteering as a judge for the Chowdhury STEM Innovation Contest. There were some great innovative solutions and impressive presentations from middle school students. - Rumiana
The experience was very good, from the training with the organizer to then reviewing the actual submissions (six of them) and meeting non-Cerence judges for coordination. I would definitely do it again. - Ugo

Beyond our employees’ enjoyment of participating in the contest, we also heard from the team at SAE about the important role our volunteers played: 

It was wonderful to have Cerence employees show up in a big way to help with the contest. Our program is able to provide more positive, memorable, and impactful STEM experiences for these kids because of these volunteers. – Bonnie, SAE Program Developer

As a thank you for the volunteer judges, SAE held a raffle in which the winners received a TisBest charity gift card, enabling them to make donations to the charities of their choice, including Children’s Book Bank, Children’s Scholarship Fund, and Cradles to Crayons. One Cerence employee chose to send an AWIM classroom kit to a school in his community, giving 32 students an opportunity to have fun learning with SAE’s JetToy Challenge.

Fueling the Future

In addition to the contest, our ongoing work with SAE is making an impact. Cerence’s donation to the SAE Foundation last year directly allowed one of the SAE teams at Concordia University to complete a Fuel Cell Challenge implementation with two classes of local students and teachers. In this curriculum, students explore physical science concepts such as force, friction, and energy transformations as well as environmental concepts such as green design, and incorporate mathematics concepts as they collect, analyze and display data. How cool is that?!

Our Commitment to Volunteerism

At Cerence, every employee has 16 volunteer time off hours per year so they can give back to their communities, in whatever way they choose to. We’re not only dedicated to building the world’s smartest, fastest and most exciting conversational AI assistants, but also the bright minds of Cerence that make these exciting innovations possible – from current employees to the bright-eyed, school-aged children who may one day be the head of R&D or CEO of Cerence. 

For more information about the contest and winners, visit www.sae.org/chowdhury and the SAE International Blog. Want to learn more about what it’s like to work at Cerence? Visit https://www.cerence.com/careers

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